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Intel didn’t give government advance notice on chip flaws

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Intel didn't give government advance notice on chip flaws

Intel did not inform U.S. officials of major computer chip flaws until they were leaked to the public six months after the firm first became aware of the vulnerabilities, according to letters the company sent lawmakers.

In a letter to House Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and other lawmakers, Intel said it disclosed information about the Spectre and Meltdown chip flaws “only to companies who could assist Intel in enhancing the security of technology users.”

“Intel also planned to brief governments in advance of the scheduled date for public disclosure on Jan. 9, 2018,” the company wrote on Thursday. “After the leak, Intel expedited its plans to deploy the mitigations and promptly briefed governments and others about the issues.”

Google researchers informed Intel of flaws in its chips in June. The company explained in its own letter to lawmakers that it left up to Intel informing the government of the flaws.

Intel said that it did not notify the government at the time because it had “no indication of any exploitation by malicious actors,” and wanted to keep knowledge of the breach limited while it and other companies worked to patch the issue.

The company let some Chinese technology companies know about the vulnerabilities, which government officials fear may mean the information was passed along to the Chinese government, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Spectre and Meltdown flaws were first leaked to the public in early January. Researchers have noted that they are among the worst chip flaws ever discovered. If exploited, hackers could steal sensitive information stored within computer processors. 

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